by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA
have recently heard from two great Burns scholars, Drs. Kenneth Simpson and
Ted Cowan. In a companion article also posted on Robert Burns Lives!,
you will find a message from Ken regarding lectures in Glasgow. The
following information is from Ted, and I must share the exciting news for
those who are interested in serious study of Robert Burns. Below is a press
release that needs no further explanation. I wish it were possible to have
the opportunity to take advantage of the programs in Dumfries and Glasgow.
Cowan will be in charge of the Dumfries research unit. I met Dr. Cowan at
the U.S. Library of Congress while attending the “Robert Burns at 250:
Poetry, Politics, and Performance” symposium in Washington during February
of this year. Later, I got to spend some time with Professor Cowan at the
University of South Carolina where he gave The W. Ormiston Roy Lecture, the
keynote address during the “Robert Burns at 250: An International Conference
on Contemporaries, Contexts and Cultural Forms” held at the university in
Suffice it to
say, with Ted Cowan leading the Dumfries project, the students who attend
will be well versed in the study of Scotland’s national Bard. Just another
reason why Robert Burns will never die! (FRS: 8.18.09)
Research Unit for Dumfries
of Glasgow’s recent week-long Summer School on Robert Burns, in partnership
with the Burns World Federation, culminated in a conference which marked the
launch of the University’s BARD project (Burns Appreciation and Research in
Dumfries). This initiative, made possible by a generous private donation,
aims to bring together the expertise of academics and local Burnsians to
study the life and works of Robert Burns, concentrating on the Dumfriesshire
years. It will also support a new MLitt in Robert Burns Studies at Glasgow
University in Dumfries.
The project was
launched by Bill Dawson, President of the Burns World Federation, and Mike
Duguid, incoming President of the Federation, both of whom warmly welcomed
this new forum for Burns Studies.
BARD will focus
on Burns as icon, legend, folklore figure, collector of music and song,
national and global phenomenon, as well as poet and literary genius. It
will operate in partnership with the Robert Burns Centre at Glasgow
University’s main campus.
One of the
conference presenters was Professor Ken Simpson who will be BARD’s first
Visiting Professor at the Dumfries Campus. BARD’s Director is Professor Ted
The University of Glasgow at Dumfries plans to open a unit
for Burns Appreciation and Research in Dumfries. Dumfries (and
Dumfriesshire), where the poet lived from 1788 until his death in 1796, is
the ideal location for this initiative which is made possible by a handsome
The proposed unit will:
Bring together academic and local expertise on Burns.
The latter should not be under-estimated. There are numerous Burns Clubs
in the Southwest supplying many presidents of the World Federation over
the years. Many local enthusiasts possess unrivalled knowledge of the
poet’s work and the allusions and references therein.
Concentrate, though not exclusively, on the study of
Robert Burns and his works during the Dumfries years. It will also
focus on Burns as icon, legend, folklore figure, and collector of songs
as well as national and global phenomenon.
Encourage collaboration with performers of Burns’ songs,
and ballads and music associated with the poet.
Operate in partnership with the Robert Burns Centre at
Glasgow University’s Main Campus which is devoted to research on the
poet and the provision of his works on the web.
Offer a postgraduate degree – an MLitt in Robert Burns
has been approved by Glasgow University’s Higher Degrees
Committee. It is intended that in the longer term the Robert Burns
courses will be developed as distance taught units.
Will organise an annual conference on the Bard
Will organise an annual Summer School on Crichton Campus
Appoint a Visiting Professor in Robert Burns Studies for
part of each academic year to raise the profile of the programme and
Glasgow’s Dumfries campus. This individual will teach, will be
available for academic supervision and will organize public events such
as seminars, workshops and lectures.
Will create a dedicated website focusing on the life and
work of Burns in Dumfries.
Will explore publications, possibly but not exclusively,
arising from conferences, which will promote Burns, Glasgow University at
Dumfries and the region in general. For example The Creation of Robert
Burns might make an interesting theme. Early authorities on Burns were
Robert Heron, James Currie and Allan Cunningham all of whom came from
Dumfries and Galloway while the Englishman, R.H. Cromek (Remains of
Nithsdale and Galloway Song and Reliques of Robert Burns) carried
out most of his ‘fieldwork’ in Nithsdale under the misdirection of
Cunningham. There is room for a book on Galloway, Dumfries and the
Borders in the Time of Robert Burns while another possibility is The
Contemporaries of Robert Burns. Another project might be the reprinting
of William MacDowall’s Dumfries in the Time of Burns.
Proposed Glasgow University in Dumfries Faculty:
Professor Ted Cowan (Burns; Scottish History)
Dr Valentina Bold (Burns; Scottish Literature; James Hogg; Folklore)
Dr David Borthwick (Scottish Literature)
Dr Ralph Jessop (Scottish Enlightenment; Thomas Carlyle; 18th
and19th Century Literature)
Dr Lizanne Henderson (Scottish Folklore; History)
Associate Faculty – these will be drawn from Burns experts at
Glasgow University and other universities.
The visiting Professor in Robert Burns Studies for session
2009- 2010 will be Professor Kenneth Simpson, a world authority on the Bard.
In addition Patrons will be invited to lend their support in
publicising and promoting the activities of BARD. These are all individuals
who are prominent in Burns circles or who are well-known students of Burns.
So far all individuals and organisations who have been approached have
expressed themselves to be greatly in favour of this initiative.
For the Homecoming Year 2009, the 250th
anniversary of Burns’ birth, Glasgow University at Dumfries has already
developed a number of Burns associated initiatives. For example, in July,
we organised a Burns Summer School and a one-day Conference in association
with the Burns Federation. We have also organised a series of linked
workshops and conferences throughout the region on Burns’ contemporaries to
meet the specifications for the 2009 Homecoming sub-themes of Enlightenment,
Innovation and the Scottish Diaspora. 2009 has provided an excellent
opportunity to advertise the University of Glasgow in Dumfries and its
programmes to the local community as well as globally. BARD will
additionally enhance the university’s future activities.
University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus - MLitt Robert Burns
12 Months Full Time or 24 Months Part Time
The MLitt in Robert Burns studies is linked to the
University of Glasgow’s BARD (Burns Appreciation and Research in
What does the
Leading experts will guide you in exploring Burns’ rich range
of poetry and the wider influences upon his work.
Robert Burns Studies looks at Burns as a supremely innovative
writer and within his literary and historical milieu. Burns is presented as
a divided figure drawing, at once, on the rich and robust oral traditions of
Scotland and, equally, on the Enlightenment. The works of the ‘heaven-taught
ploughman’, from lyrics to political verse, from the religious to the bawdy,
are viewed in context, to achieve a greater understanding of his output and
of his era.
In order to graduate you will complete two compulsory courses
plus two elective courses, with options for an independent reading course
reflecting your own interests. You must complete a dissertation for the
award of MLitt, but it is also possible, by completing the coursework
without the dissertation, to qualify for a Diploma in Robert Burns Studies.
Also available MPhil and PHD research degrees in Robert Burns
Robert Burns: life and works
This course familiarises students with Burns’ life and works,
and changing responses to these from the late 18th century to the
present. It sets Burns into context as a writer bridging the gap between
Enlightenment aesthetics and Romanticism. Celebrations of the poet and his
life, from Burns suppers to 2009’s Homecoming, are also considered in this
Robert Burns in Context
Here, we put Burns into historical context, from the 18th
century onwards. The course covers his influences, relationships with
contemporaries, and scholarly comparisons with early poets and writers.
There are sessions devoted to linguistic analysis, as well as the location
of Burns within a distinctly oral tradition. We consider Burns in other
contexts, with alternative views of both the man and the poet. Finally, we
consider Burns in the context of the early 21st century, where
his work continues to emote and divide.
In addition, you can choose another two courses from the
optional course list:
Scottish poetry in the 19th century
Scottish Enlightenment thought
Heritage, interpretation and development
Scottish folklore and popular culture
Independent reading course (topic to be decided in consultation between
student and staff, allowing the student to persue special interests)
You will also be required to complete a 15 – 20,000 word
For Further information please contact;
Professor of Scottish History, Glasgow University
Director of University of Glasgow, Dumfries Campus
Crichton University Campus
Dumfries, DG1 4ZL
Tel: +44 (0) 1387 702054
University of Glasgow, Dumfries, Rutherford/McCowan Building
The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401